More than $700k in Rural Center grants cleared by McCrory's offi - WRBL

More than $700k in Rural Center grants cleared by McCrory's office

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Last month, state legislators defunded the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center after an audit found the nonprofit failed to provide proper oversight of millions in grants. Last month, state legislators defunded the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center after an audit found the nonprofit failed to provide proper oversight of millions in grants.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Gov. Pat McCrory announced Sunday that the Office of State Budget and Management has released hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money funded by a controversial Raleigh nonprofit.

Last month, state legislators defunded the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center after an audit found the nonprofit failed to provide proper oversight of millions in grants while providing excessive payments to its president, Billy Ray Hall.

Hall resigned under pressure, yet his severance package amounted to more than $240,000. The Rural Center board froze Hall's severance last week.

State Auditor Beth Wood said reporting requirements on grants issued by the center were not diligently enforced and that job creation claims on five grants could not be verified.

Sunday, the OSBM announced that it had determined 14 grants are in compliance with state laws and rules and will be released this month.

The grants total $734,344.18, and the funds released are the first of those due in August. The bulk of the funds goes to Person County, which will receive a grant for $500,000.

"We wanted to make sure that they got their money on time, so they could do the good projects for rural North Carolina that they needed to do in their local area," McCrory's communications chief, Kim Genardo, said.

On July 29, the Rural Center Board voted to form a special committee of five members of the board, including appointed and elected members, to determine how the center should move forward. The committee will also meet with the appropriate governmental officials to negotiate and approve a plan to transfer the state funds to the appropriate state governmental agencies.

The committee is expected to make a recommendation to the full board whether the center should begin the process of dissolution at next month's board meeting.

Genardo said McCrory expects his commerce secretary and five-member committee to find a way forward for the Rural Center by the end of the month.

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